In February of 2016, I started a Facebook album using my personal account with the title “Bacolod Needs More Plants in Commercial Areas“, with the hashtags #MorePlantsinBacolod and #GreenerBacolod. I felt there is a growing need to have more plants and even trees in our commercial areas in the city because Bacolod is indeed booming with the many construction sites going on at the same time. But because of that, we see more concrete and the city’s commercial areas have become hotter and more glaring because many plants and trees have been cut down to make way for these developments.
Here is what I wrote on the album to explain my stand:
Bacolod is indeed seeing a lot of developments. But while we see buildings growing, we see less and less of trees and plants and even grass. It’s getting really hot along commercial areas where plants are nowhere in sight and just long stretches of concrete. If only building owners will put pocket gardens or even just potted plants in front, the area will surely become breezier, will have less pollution, and will have better quality air. Even those with tall buildings who do not seem to have floor space on the ground can still put plants on their roof deck–not for decorative purposes but for the environment. As we are seeing more and more vehicles plying our streets, we really need more plants to produce more oxygen. Renowned Filipino Urban Planner Felino Palafox Jr. said in an interview that we need 10 trees for every car in order to maintain good air quality.
I hope the city government will look into this and maybe formulate an ordinance? Or maybe encourage business owners to set up gardens by holding contests? I dunno, I’m just throwing the idea around. I don’t have statistics but I believe that if we have more plants, it will not be so hot around our city. Not having a ‘green thumb’ is no reason because there are many plants you can buy that don’t need a lot of fuss to care of. You can always ask those who exhibit at garden shows and those plant sellers at Panaad and Pahanocoy. Let’s be generous about this because no matter who we are, rich or poor, WE ALL BREATHE THE SAME AIR. This is not a lame concern. If you are a business owner reading this, you may want to start your own garden if you don’t have one yet. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change our homes and and places of business. Please share this till this reaches authorities who can act on this. Meanwhile, I will post commercial establishments who have incorporated plants and garden landscapes in their designs. We truly appreciate you. Thank you very much!
Background of the Greener Bacolod Advocacy
This advocacy was birthed in our own garden on the third floor of a commercial building located in Central Bacolod known as the Capitol Shopping Center. I used to live in the suburbs where the lot was expansive and the majority of the area was dedicated to plants, trees, and grass. When I got married, I lived with my husband in this commercial district.
I kept complaining as to how hot it is in our bedroom where I stay most of the day with my children. We don’t go out much because my eldest daughter is homeschooled. So we feel the brunt of the heat, as if we are being baked alive inside our bedroom, even with the air conditioning and electric fan on. We have installed insulation on our ceiling but it still feels very hot during the day and even during the night, because the heat lingers inside. There’s no way out. And I was the only one complaining because my kids and I are actually the only ones who really stayed at home all day.
Eventually, I started with a single fairy dish garden sometime about mid-2015, just because my daughter likes stuff about fairies. Then I added more because a friend donated some cacti and succulents to my garden. Since then I started arranging potted plants to line up the walls of our bedroom that are facing the afternoon sun. And I kept replanting and propagating to increase the population of plants in the garden. I would water them day and night, sometimes late at night when I had early evening errands, because if I do it only once a day, the plants would wilt because of the heat.
When the winter breeze from other countries faded away this year, I noticed that the my friends kept ranting on Facebook about how hot it is and yet, I didn’t notice it. Usually, I would be the first one to complain under my breath. That was when I realized that the plants outside our bedroom must have shielded us from the heat, even though there are not really too many of them. That means that if there are more plants and trees around us, it would NOT be so hot, especially in commercial areas. And we can breathe easy, too, because the plants purify the air.
I understand that commercial establishments have spatial impediments in putting too many plants in their place of business, but some have done it. And so I started documenting the businesses in Bacolod that have trees, landscapes, pocket gardens, or even just potted plants in their place of business. These pictures were then published on a dedicated album on my Facebook account with the hashtags, #MorePlantsinBacolod and #GreenerBacolod. I keep updating the album almost every day, even while I am on vacation. Since then, some people contributed photos to the album and even those who are not my friends shared my album, believing in the advocacy and encouraging others to do the same. The mayor of Bacolod has responded as well as a city councilor. The advocacy was also published in a local daily, complete with a photo of our tiny garden on the third floor. A club has also responded and they are starting a tree planting campaign in the city to bring down the temperature. How cool is that?
The advocacy has gone beyond our tiny garden on the third floor of a commercial building. It has gained traction and has attracted the attention of the local daily and even some government officials. And that should be the case, because everyone, no matter how rich or poor, breathe the same air and we feel the same heat. So no one is spared.
This is everybody’s concern and it is my hope to really see more plants in the commercial areas of Bacolod City with the help of the city government and the cooperation of the business owners. They are healthier for all of us.